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Al Qaeda planned 9/11 on Kabul

world Updated: Jul 30, 2010 23:03 IST

It may be one of the more audacious terrorist plots to be hatched in Afghanistan, but it was certainly not the most original.

The same Al Qaeda masterminds behind 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington planned to commit a similar attack in the capital of the country that once harboured them, according to a file among US military intelligence documents published this week by the WikiLeaks website.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's second in command, is said to have given the order for a team of 22 to board one or more planes at Kabul airport, hijack the aircraft and steer them toward a number of "important objectives".

The targets were to include Hamid Karzai's presidential palace, Nato headquarters, the British and US embassies and the Ariana hotel — the whole which the CIA rented and used as its station in Kabul.

The report on the alleged hijack plot was recorded by intelligence officers on March 23, 2009. The airline plot report has details, naming a number of conspirators, including Afghan or Pakistani generals and a pilot from the Afghan national carrier, who were allegedly involved in providing the hijackers fake IDs and "facilitating anti-coalition training".

Whereas the 9/11 hijackers went to flight schools in Arizona and Florida, the Kabul plotters were due to receive flying lessons at a "private air club in Karachi".

At an unspecified date they would enter Afghanistan and try to obtain Russian, Chinese and Iranian visas to allow them to fly to those countries.